April 23, 2015

Review: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publication date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Category: Adult - Contemporary Fiction
Source: Purchased
Summary: When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes. Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for? (goodreads.com)

The good
After reading After I Do, it's safe to say that I will probably buy anything this author writes. In this book, Lauren and Ryan's marriage has reached a point where they don't like each other, much less feel in love anymore. But neither is ready to say the word divorce just yet. Instead they come up with a plan to separate for a year. Absolutely no contact and they're allowed to date other people. Basically, anything goes. As someone who is single and has never been married, I wondered how affected I would be by their story and especially Lauren's journey. And the answer is: extremely affected. Stepping into Lauren's shoes felt like a voyeuristic look into married life. Not to say that every married couple needs a one year break. But just the ups and downs, the intensity of the beginning stages, the frustrations you initially sweep under the rug and can later explode if ignored. Knowing what you want from your significant other and who you want to be. It's a heartbreakingly honest and at times, even funny, look at love and how relationships need to be constantly worked at, no matter how long you've been together.

It's a very introspective novel and while their plan to work on their marriage is unconventional and extreme, as a whole it was surprisingly un-angsty. We see glimpses of how Lauren and Ryan's relationship came to be and again during various stages as the years go by. But everything truly takes place in the present where their marriage is a mess and they've decided to take time apart. We see mostly Lauren's struggles and path of self-discovery (but I should note that the author allows us to learn about Ryan's side of things in a very clever way!). She's not portrayed as a perfect character but as someone who is lost and trying to remember who she is. On one hand, she's been with this man for the majority of her life and overcome with how alone she is at the moment. But little by little, with the help of friends and her family (particularly her sister Rachel who I totally related to!), she begins to heal. She starts asking herself important questions about love, marriage, why things got so bad with Ryan, who she is and the biggest question of all -- what will come next? At the end of one year, will this experiment lead them back to each other or in opposite directions? The romantic in me knew what I was rooting for but either way, I knew the author's authentic, straightforward writing would have the perfect ending whether it was a happy or a sad one.

(No) Reservations
None! I can't believe I waited until this year to read these author's books.

Do I recommend?
Yes! The morning after I finished it, I texted my BFF (we bought the book together) to tell her to start reading ASAP. As much as the focus is on Lauren and Ryan's marriage, there are many opinions from different characters about love and married life. It was so interesting to read. I know I'll be recommending this book (and author) a lot from now on.

1 comment:

  1. I read After I Do last year, and fell head over heels in love. Reid just has this uncanny ability to hit the nail on the head when it comes to relationships and self-growth, and I loved that. I was bawling my eyes out after having read this one last July 4, and I'm so glad that you fell in love with Lauren and Ryan's story too.

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